A bit of limelight shone on Oswego High School on Thursday, when Dr. Patti Marcinko, director of student services at Oswego High School, and her daughter Micaila appeared as extras in the most recent episode of NBC’s “Chicago Med.”
A spinoff of NBC’s other Chicago-based shows “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” – all created by Dick Wolf – “Chicago Med” focuses on a group of doctors at the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center.
The show, currently in its third season, stars Torrey DeVitto, Oliver Platt, Colin Donnell, S. Epatha Merkerson and Yaya DaCosta.
The Marcinkos appeared in the 12th episode of the third season, titled “Born This Way,” which first aired on March 20. The episode featured several storylines, including the delivery of a homeless teenager’s baby, efforts to save a patient suffering from a chronic illness, and a patient with a secret.
While Micaila, a student at Roosevelt University in Chicago, has appeared as an extra on one of the three Chicago shows 10 times previously, this was Patti’s first time – though she and her sister did appear as extras in an episode of “As The World Turns” while they were in college.
“It was one of those things you check off the bucket list,” she said. “It was great.”
“My mom and I love watching the shows together, so getting to be a part of filming them, and seeing the actors, and quietly geeking out together is amazing,” Micaila said. “I go in knowing no one usually and either make friends or see people who also like doing extra work a lot and come back like I do.”
The casting agency which handles the three Chicago shows regularly posts open casting calls on Facebook, which Micaila stumbled across one day and convinced her mother to sign up with her.
“There was a post looking for people ages 20 to 60 to either be medical types, or be hospital visitors,” Patti said. “So I put in for it, and she put in for it.”
Each submitted a photograph, their place of residence, and other information including height and weight, and both were chosen to appear in the same episode.
“They called pretty quickly,” Patti said. She was sitting at her desk at OHS when she got the call from an agency employee who asked her to bring different outfits with her, “‘But looking at your picture, you’re probably going to be in scrubs,’” the employee told her.
The Marcinkos were asked to appear at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios at precisely 7:18 a.m. on a Saturday morning in December.
They were then sent off to the costuming department, where they both were put into green scrubs at one point, though Micaila was more frequently dressed in regular clothes as a hospital visitor.
After getting dressed, the two waited with the other extras for many hours, having been advised to bring a book or something to do. Throughout the day, the extras were given the chance to enjoy a variety of foods, including made-to-order omelets and fajitas, steak, pizza, chicken, salad, snacks and candy.
Eventually, Micaila was called in as a visitor, and was instructed to walk back and forth across the set, while Patti, dressed in green scrubs, was instructed to sit at a computer and type, periodically talking to another extra.
They’ll say something to you, and they’re just like, ‘Talk and smile,’” she said.
At one point, Patti was told to change into pink scrubs. Crew members told her that she would be playing a neonatal nurse, “and you might have to hold a baby,” they said. “I’ve held babies before, I can do this,” she said.
Her scene was in a pivotal moment at the end of the episode, where Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee) and Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto), deliver a newborn infant to a DCFS worker. Patti played a nurse who took the child from Choi’s arms and held the baby during the rest of the scene. Due to industry rules, infants can only work on a set for a certain number of hours, so for Patti’s scene, she worked with three babies and two dolls, alternated for her by the on-set “baby wrangler.” One of the dolls, she said, had probably been used previously for an open-heart surgery scene on the show due to the large mark on its chest covered up by a blanket.
Patti praised the cast members she worked with during her time on set.
“They were all very nice, and very professional,” Patti said. She described Tee as “cordial,” but focused on his script, and added that DeVitto laughed at something Patti said. Micaila added, “I’ve seen pretty much every character on all three Chicago shows, but they are very strict with not allowing us to talk to them since everyone wants to get the job done, and if we’re distracting them we can’t do that.”
In her 10 appearances on the Chicago shows, Micaila said that her favorite cast members to interact with were those on the set of “Chicago Fire.”
“They’re all super funny,” she said. “It’s fun to watch them interact, and they like to joke around a lot.”
The Marcinkos didn’t leave set that day until after 6 p.m., having been used as extras in multiple storylines in the episode. “I always love going on set cause it’s just so interesting to watch how much is actually put into a TV show,” Micaila said. “Like you don’t realize all the filming that goes into one scene.”
“It’s amazing, how many people they use that aren’t even seen,” Patti said.
By the end of the day, the two had earned more than $100, after taxes.
“It was so much fun,” Patti said, adding that she plans to apply to be an extra again. “It wasn’t bad – to get fed really well, and to get that experience.”
“Now that I’m doing my internship in Florida, I really miss doing the extra work. It’s so much fun, and you get some side money to just stand around and react to things,” Micaila said.